LeBron James Praises Jayson Tatum’s ‘Elite’ Accomplishments

LeBron James and Jayson Tatum

Getty LeBron James and Jayson Tatum

LeBron James, speaking on the first episode of his new podcast, Mind The Game with JJ Redick, praised Jayson Tatum‘s career accomplishments so far and how much he has already won.

James began by talking about how experience is one of the best teachers, saying “There’s a great saying that says ‘the best teacher in life is experience’. I mean, he’s 25 years old, he’s 25 years old and I believe he’s been to the Conference Finals four times, been to obviously the NBA Finals once.”

He continued by adding context about how long it has taken some of the league’s best players to win their first title, saying “I didn’t win my first one until I was 28, I think Joker [Nikola Jokic] won his first one at 27, I think MJ [Michael Jordan] was 28 as well. I think we have a lot of expectations of JT [Jayson Tatum] but he’s experienced a lot of winning in his career so far. Obviously everyone wants to see him get over the hump but four Conference Finals and a Finals appearance before the age of 26 is elite.”

While James was actually 27 when he got his first ring, the point still stands. It is incredibly hard to win a championship in the NBA. Below is a look at how old some more of the game’s best players were when they finally got over the hump, as James put it.

Age of First Championship

@AOP_NBAAge of First Championship

Redick on Tatum’s Growth

Redick, speaking on the same episode of the podcast, noted that in the 2022 finals, Tatum often struggled to get the Golden State Warriors “into rotation” when he was in isolation.

Fast forward to this season, Redick says has seen growth in Tatum’s play, “I made this comment the other day about Tatum. It feels like with him, the reads are quicker, making the right play, it’s just quicker, he doesn’t fight the game as much.”

Tatum is averaging 27.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game this season. His 4.9 assists are a career-high, and perhaps a testament to how he is reading the game quicker, as Redick noted.

Redick also noted that some of the growth may be due to the change in personnel the Celtics have had, notably the addition of Kristaps Porzingis. There has been a clear emphasis on playing unselfishly this season for the Celtics. Tatum’s usage rate of 29.6% is the lowest since the 2018-19 season, his second season in the league.

Depleted Celtics Handle Pistons

On March 18, the Celtics defeated the Detroit Pistons 119-94. The score itself seems unsurprising, as the Celtics have been crushing teams all season. However, it becomes a bit more impressive when diving into the box score (for those who didn’t watch the game).

Tatum and Jrue Holiday both sat, Payton Pritchard led the team in minutes played with 38, and Porzingis only played 21 minutes. Still, the Celtics won the game by 25 points. Yes, Jaylen Brown had 31 points and Derrick White had his first career triple-double, finishing with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, but the ability for the Celtics to slot Pritchard, Luke Kornet, and Jaden Springer into the lineup without missing a beat is what should be truly worrisome for the rest of the league.

Read More